Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves unified in the Spirit binding yourselves together iwth peace. For there is one body and one Spirit. Ephesians 4: 1-4
Reading Paul’s beautiful moving words of exhortation makes me want to say–yes, yes these are very good things. However, as I begin to really take them a part, I realize that these are also very challenging words. Even as I typed those words, “a prisoner for serving the Lord”, I realized he earned the right to encourage us to walk this way because of all the things he had gone through. When I was a teenager my parents took us on a trip to Europe. My father took us to the sight of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. It was dark, cold and damp. Not a pleasant place at all. It was here he wrote this letter. So reading his reference to his imprisonment makes it real. The things he suffered for the Lord’s sake really does give him credibility and a platform to challenge us to stand taller in our walk with the Lord, and to “walk worthy of our calling”.
The challenge of walking in unity means we acknowledge the fact that we and the rest of the body of Christ are called by God. As we move closer to our US Elections, it will be increasingly challenging to fight for this unity. But if we can keep Paul’s wise words in mind and in action, the whole body will benefit. Walk humbly and gentle. Humility is not always easy to implement–especially when you feel you are right; adding gentleness is another aspect that often gets left out of our interactions with others. These admonitions are equally helpful when interacting with family and friends as well. Practicing being patient and learning to make allowances for one another’s faults because of your love can be a daily struggle. Oh, how I want others to make allowance for my faults, to give me the grace and understanding that I need; but do I do the same for others? Growing up into the maturity of Christ is understanding people are not perfect, nor will they be until the Lord comes. It is often easy to criticize those we don’t know–because we don’t really love them. I want to address my results driven friends. Do not let your focus on the “results” cause you to excuse these admonitions from the Lord through Paul. In the long run, you will see much more beneficial and fruitful results if you walk in these truths.
As Paul goes on the Ephesians 4 we discover his passion for unity even more. I want to encourage us all to ask the Lord to help you to learn to walk humbly with your God, in new measures. To learn to appreciate those different than yourselves, is a growing sign of maturity. We, as believers, are on display. It is a privilege and an honor to represent Jesus Christ, isn’t it?